During this introductory course, geared for students new to cybersecurity, students will be introduced to fundamental security topics. Students will critically examine concepts such as basic networking, system administration, team dynamics and system security as well as identifying and applying basic security hardening techniques. Students will gain practical experience through a virtualized lab environment where they will be building a small corporate network.

Faculty Instructors

Faculty Instructors are responsible for administering the course in accordance with the University at Buffalo policies and this syllabus. Faculty Instructors also determine final course grades consistent with the grading policy in this syllabus.

Name Email Chat Username
Dave Murray djmurray@buffalo.edu djmurray
Kevin Cleary kpcleary@buffalo.edu cleary.kevin.p

Student Instructors

Student Instructors are responsible for running the class. Most questions, unless believed to be sensitive, should go to someone from this list.

Name Email Chat Username
Aibek Zhylkaidarov aibekzhy@buffalo.edu aibek
Andrew Hu ahu5@buffalo.edu ahu5
Anthony Magrene ammagren@buffalo.edu magrene
Aritra Paul aritrapa@buffalo.edu aripaul
Benjamin Bukai bjbukai@buffalo.edu bjbukai
Edward Lynch edwardly@buffalo.edu edwardly
Gursimran Singh gursimr2@buffalo.edu gursimr2
Michael Morgenthal mmorgent@buffalo.edu mmorgent
Nick Richter nwrichte@buffalo.edu nickrichter
Phil Fox pcfox@buffalo.edu xphilfox
Ruben Ocana rubenoca@buffalo.edu ruben_ocana
Shreya Lakhkar shreyala@buffalo.edu shreya

Course Resources

Website ubnetdef.org/courses/syssec
Chat Channel chat.ubnetdef.org
Wiki wiki.ubnetdef.org
vCenter Server cdr-vcenter.cse.buffalo.edu
UB VPN buffalo.edu/ubit/service-guides/connecting/vpn/computer.html
You need this to be able to connect to vCenter while off campus or off network.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course a student will be able to… Assessment
Learn Basic Security Concepts and Topics Course
Defend a Machine from Real-time Attackers Course & Competitions
Work Effectively in a Team Project & Competitions
Identify Threats and Vulnerabilities of Systems Course
Effectively Communicate via Written Reports and Presentation Skills Project & Final Presentation

Course Requirements


Attendance for all lectures is required. One absence or late arrival is permitted without penalty. Each additional absence may result in a letter grade reduction in the course. Students arriving late or unprepared may also receive an equal or lesser penalty at the discretion of the instructors. Absences due to illness may be excused if the instructor is notified in advance, and the illness is documented by a physician or healthcare professional.

Competition Participation

All students are required to participate fully in at least three cyber-security competitions, including two UB Lockdown competitions. Various competitions will be announced throughout the academic semester.

Homework Assignments

Homework will generally be assigned each week, and will likely be based on the topics in the class schedule. Unless otherwise specified, they will be released and submitted at homework.ubnetdef.org (the “Homework Engine”).

Class Schedule

This schedule is subject to change.

Week Topic Homework
Week 1 Welcome - 1000 mile overview, vSphere, Mattermost Virtualization Set up: Mattermost, Homework Engine, Lucidchart, etc.
Week 2 Networking
pfSense Runbook; Topology of pfSense with IPs, Gretzky and LAN + DMZ
Week 3 Windows TBA
Week 4 Linux
Guest Lecture: Shanelle Ileto
Set up 2 server VMs + 1 client VM + General Linux Stuff
Week 5 Services TBA
Week 6 Advanced Networking
Guest Lecture: Kevin Cleary
Week 7 Firewalls TBA
Saturday, October 17th, 2020: Lockdown V9
Week 8 Penetration Testing
Guest Lecturer: Lucas Crassidis
Week 9 Ansible TBA
Week 10 Palo Alto (Next Gen Firewall) Palo Alto, Palo Alto HW (NAT, Security Policy, Zones, Interfaces, Setup)
Week 11 Packet Analysis/Network Security Presentations
Guest Lecturer: Chris K
Week 12 Packet Analysis/NetSec Presentations TBA
Week 13 FALL BREAK!!!
Week 14 Vulnerability Management/IT Security Controls, Lockdown Review
Guest Lecturer: Jay Chen
Saturday, December 5th, 2020: High School Lockdown 4
Week 15 Working period for the final project Final Project

Getting Assistance

The best way to request assistance is to ask on the Systems Security channel on UBNetDef’s chat server. The instructors and mentors are constantly on the server, so it’s likely you will get a response within 24-hours, if not less. If you do not have access to the UBNetDef chat server, please contact an instructor.

Grading Policy

Grading Breakdown

Component Percentage of overall grade
Attendance 15%
Weekly Projects 50%
Final Project 15%
Lockdown 15%
Extra Competition 5%
Total 100%

Grading Scale

Letter grade Percentage
A ≥ 93%
A- ≥ 90%
B+ ≥ 87%
B ≥ 83%
B- ≥ 80%
C+ ≥ 77%
C ≥ 73%
C- ≥ 70%
D ≥ 65%
F <65%

Course Conduct

Academic Integrity

Students must conduct their coursework in a manner that does not violate the University at Buffalo’s Academic Integrity Policy. Students found in violation of the Academic Integrity Policy will receive an F for the course.

Ethics Policy

As a student in cyber security, you are learning tools and given resources that are meant to help protect yourself and others. However, these tools and resources can also be used in malicious or illegal ways. It is imperative that while you are a representative of this class, and even well after, you perform any security education or training strictly inside our internal environment or a controlled and contained environment that you have prepared for yourself. Any activity outside of our internal environment is outside of our control and protection. If you are not sure what you’re doing, it is very easy to do something illegal without even knowing you are (even something as simple as port scanning outside our internal network). If you are unsure if something is allowed or not, contact one of the instructors or mentors. All network traffic inside our infrastructure will be monitored for malicious or suspicious activity and acted upon with severe consequences if such privileges are abused. You are being given an opportunity to learn, please do not waste it.

vCenter Usage

As a part of Systems Security, you are granted permissions to create Virtual Machines on the vCenter environment, for educational purposes. Any misuse of the environment will result in the immediate failure of the student.

Network Logging Disclaimer

All traffic that occurs within the vCenter environment is being logged for analysis purposes. Traffic captures (pcaps) may be shared with other individuals within UBNetDef for educational purposes only. We highly discourage logging into any personal or social networking websites on a Virtual Machine hosted in the vCenter environment.